Home > Journalism > NBC11 integrates on-air chat room exchanges. Proof once again that the mainstream media just does not get it.

NBC11 integrates on-air chat room exchanges. Proof once again that the mainstream media just does not get it.

The San Francisco Chronicle published an interesting article today about San Jose’s local NBC affiliate, NBC 11, integrating an on-air chat room into their local nightly newscast.

According to the article, “Viewers might not get a personal note back from anchor Jessica Aguirre, but they could get an on-air shout-out during the 5 p.m. newscast or a response from her in the newscast’s online chat room.

The San Jose station started anchor-driven online chats this month in an effort to better interact with its audience. The experiment is an example of how mainstream media outlets are belatedly trying to embrace a fundamental value of the Web: Listen to your audience.”

I’m sorry, but listening to your audience does not mean speaking with them in real time during the news broadcast. On the surface it’s a clever idea, but in reality it’s a jumbled mess.

Say for instance the show decides to run a short snippet on anything President Bush related. The posts are bound to roll in.

“We should call for an impeachment!” one viewer might say.

“This is why the media is so stupid. You got the story all wrong!” Another participant will add.

“If you guys hadn’t let Bush steal the election for the second time we might not be in this awful war!”

The rants will keep coming. The anchor will lose her focus, and suddenly her attention will be diverted to a few select extremists determined to make their point. Don’t believe me? Take a few minutes and look at the comments on Nytimes.com, CNN.com and WSJ.com. The majority are fair, high-level and educational, but there are also a large portion of slanderous directed attacks at public individuals and the writers.

Just last year the Washington Post temporarily shut down comments due to the high amount of slanderous, hateful, ignorant posts. After a firestorm of angry bloggers sounded off, the paper reopened the comments, but with a strict code of ethics that requires no profanity, off-the-wall remarks, or slanderous attacks.

The blogger reaction saw the policy as censorship, in violation of the first amendment and the mainstream media running away from engaging in a conversation.

The SF Chron article continues to say, “News is shifting from being a prepared lecture from a journalist to being a conversation with the audience,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a media think tank. “And local TV has been very late in coming to the online party. About all the forms of media have already been there.”

Have they really? Or is this just an attempt to grab a few nights of strong ratings going into the fall season…

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